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Journalists complain of Kabul abuse

A journalist with Arab news channel al-Jazeera said he and an Afghan colleague were ill-treated by international peacekeepers in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Sayed Cameraman Hashmatolla Moslih - an Australian citizen - and an Afghan reporter were detained while trying to film the scene of a grenade attack on Thursday outside the main base for soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

A man had thrown a grenade, killing two Afghans and wounding two French citizens before apparently blowing himself up.

Mr Moslih says he and his colleague were detained for six hours, blindfolded and bound while being interrogated by the peacekeepers although they had identified themselves with press cards.

"They treated us as if we were members of al-Qaeda," he said. "They asked questions like, 'Where is Osama Bin Laden? Do you know [him]? Do you have a relationship with Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar?' "

Detention footage

He also said the soldiers stood on his forearms, dug their boot heels into him and pushed the barrels of their weapons into his body. He said a Romanian soldier later told him the peacekeepers were Dutch.

Mr Moslih's camera, which filmed footage of the detention, shows footage in which he is seen lying on the ground being told to be quiet despite identifying himself as a journalist. At one point a soldier places his boot on Mr Moslih's hand, Reuters news agency reported.

'Terror concerns'

However peacekeeping force spokesman Major Gordon Mackenzie of the UK said the men were held because they were filming in an area where such activities were banned and had not been mistreated.

"They weren't bullied, they weren't beaten, and a doctor checked that nothing had gone wrong with them," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"The soldiers, immediately after a terrorist attack, were obviously clearly concerned... we have to remember that this is a defensive situation where terrorist attacks happen all the time and indeed people have been killed before by people pretending to be TV camera crews."

Afghan Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Masood was assassinated in September 2001 when two men posing as journalists blew up a bomb concealed in a television camera, killing Masood instantly. They are thought to have been al-Qaeda operatives sent by Osama Bin Laden.

Kabul's peacekeeping force comprises around 4,800 soldiers, taken from more than 22 nations. At present the force is commanded by Turkey, which will hand over to Holland and Germany early next year.

Date posted: December 30, 2002 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 9